“Fighting and winning on any battlefield, today and tomorrow.” – This is a common response amongst the Department of Defense when discussing their objectives. At Boeing, we’re investing our resources in that same objective, as evidenced by what we’re doing to modernize the Apache. This Boeing concept represents the next evolution of the venerable and combat-proven aerial weapons platform. The Apache is designed to win today and on any battlefield it might come across in the future.
With unmatched lethality and networking, enhanced survivability and increased range and endurance, Boeing’s Modernized Apache will provide the U.S. Army with the attack and reconnaissance capabilities it needs to dominate in highly complex and ever-changing ecosystems. But how?
Increased Range and Endurance
The ability to go farther, stay on the battlefield longer and be more lethal while navigating contested environments is key for Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) dominance. Modernized Apache will have a new engine, tail rotor and fuselage to specifically address those requirements and bring those capabilities to the aircraft.
New engine integration in the AH-64 Apache is part of the U.S. Army’s Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP), for which Boeing received a contract in 2019. The engine, a General Electric Aerospace T901, will offer increased fuel efficiency, enhanced health and usage monitoring, and significantly more available power.
Modifications to the main transmission drives, fuselage, and supporting components will allow the T901 engine to operate at full power. Updates to the fuselage and tail rotor will deliver a 20% increase in range and maximize the airframe’s power and weight. With these enhancements, Modernized Apache will have the payload capacity to be able to fly 135 nautical miles up, remain on the battlefield for roughly an hour and fly 135 nautical miles back – twice the endurance of the E-model configuration.
Unmatched Lethality and Networking
The improved engine, drive system, tail rotor authority and fuselage bring an increase in payload capacity for increased endurance, range, and munitions on board, making the Apache even more versatile and lethal. The Modernized Apache can bring 3,400 – 4,400 lbs. of payload to the fight, providing joint forces with superior lethality and long-range weapons capability.
Building off of the E-model variant, Boeing designed the Modernized Apache to have the option to come with two extra pylons for a total of six, enabling an increase in weapons when compared to the AH-64E. The two additional pylons open up the aircraft to carry airborne long-range precision munitions, Launched Effects (LE) and potential future directed energy weapon system integration.
As it stands today, the AH-64E is the most heavily networked U.S. Army aircraft and the only platform that conducts integrated Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) for both ISR & lethal effects. The Apache is the only U.S. Army platform that operates MUM-T, which means the aircraft will be able to integrate and manage LEs on the battlefield when they are fielded. Modernized Apache is capable of both autonomous launch and in-flight digital link-up. It will serve as the centerpiece of the MDO battlefield, maneuver and communicate rapidly, strike at range and survive in large scale combat to shorten and accelerate the kill chain, enable decision dominance and drive common situational understanding.
The Modernized Apache will have enhanced survivability on the battlefield without sacrificing reach or safety of aircrews. Additionally, the Modernized Apache includes a Modular Open Systems Architecture (MOSA) that will allow the rapid insertion of new technologies and capabilities. Modernized Apache will keep our forces combat credible, resiliently networked, increasingly autonomous and adaptable to evolving threats – making the platform more capable and survivable on its last day of service than on its first.
The Army’s MDO concept requires network-centric interdependence and joint integration across the force, bringing improved combat effectiveness, lethality and survivability. Boeing’s Modernized Apache leverages the convergence of cutting-edge attack helicopter technologies to deliver advanced capabilities for unmatched battlefield situational awareness, long-range stand-off weapons for improved lethality and survivability and the connectivity needed to win today's fight and the future fight. Representing the most proven aircraft on the battlefield, the Modernized Apache will provide Army Aviation with the ability to “Fight and win on any battlefield, today and tomorrow.”